I was in the grocery store the other day and there was lady behind me in line who was in a wheelchair. I offered to help her put her groceries on the counter and she was shocked. She kept thanking me over and over again. I told her it was my pleasure – I am happy to help! She then told me, “Well, thank your mom!” I replied that I was indeed thankful for a mom who taught me well!
I share this, not to boast in any way, but because it was a poignant illustration to me of two things. The first was it is a sad fact that someone offering to serve is a shock. With all the talk in our culture about “giving back,” there is not much to show for it. The second thing is that I am so thankful that my parents were purposeful in teaching their children to serve. They taught us 4 lessons about serving:
1. Serving is fun – My parents purposed to make serving fun! I think that this is incredible that they thought about this. They purposely sought out opportunities for us to serve and to do it with friends. We looked forward to packing food boxes at Children’s Hunger Fund or Christmas gifts at Operation Gratitude with our friends. This was always a blast for us!
Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man. Ephesians 6:7
2. Serving is a normal part of daily life – My parents expected us to serve; it was just part of daily life in a big family. Serving is what we are called to do. When I was a teenager, I used to get frustrated that my efforts to serve often went unnoticed. But as I got older I realized that this was an illustration of the Christian life. As Christians, we expect God to reward us for doing good things. But that is not the way that it works. God does not have to commend us on obeying Him and doing the things that are our duty. But sometimes in His gracious provision He does choose to bless our obedience.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12.
3. Serving requires noticing needs – My mom taught us to notice ways that we could serve. She taught us to notice the dishes in the sink that needed washing or the person in youth group who was standing by themselves. This what not something that came naturally for us. It took years of training and pointing out needs and reminding. It is something we must train ourselves and our children to put on.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…Colossians 3:12
4. Serving requires sacrifice – Serving is not always fun and games however. Serving as Christ did often requires great sacrifice. It is hard sometimes. We must be willing to serve as Christ served.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8
I am thankful for my parents example and how they trained us! My prayer is to train up my children someday to find joy in serving, to obey Christ through serving, to be observant of ways that they can serve, and to be willing to serve sacrificially.